Split – Spoiler Free Movie Review

If I asked you to find the most simplified form of 6/12, you’d probably say 1/2. Six multiplied by two equals to twelve, and so 50% is your final fraction as a percentage. Granted, most view this as some sort of mental math, and doesn’t require a calculator nor a calculated approach for that matter to get to a final answer.

The situation becomes a bit murky when asked the most simplified form of, say, 1/6. Not many people would know that that equals to ~ 16.67%, and so you would need a calculator to find that out. The moral of the story? Something simple doesn’t require you to think as much, but a slight change in the wording (or in this case, numbers), and it hits you right back at square one.

Retracing your steps back to where you started isn’t all that bad though; it allows you to do a postmortem on what went wrong or areas you could’ve improved. A postmortem, can go one of two ways; (1) It makes you think about your wrongs and lets you analyze ways to not have them happen again, or (2) In extreme cases, it can make you feel incredibly uncomfortable and even the slightest tinge of the nerve when someone brings that particular topic up can bring about some harrowing memories. One could surmise that thinking about a situation after-the-fact can lead to some split opinions, for lack of a better word.

What makes 2016’s Split so effective is that a lot of the tension in this horror/thriller is genuine. Jump scares are replaced with psychological fears, bland character development/writing is replaced with characters you can feel emotionally invested in, and the ending is vintage M.Night Shyamalan; a twist, which in this film parallels the unfortunate volatility of one suffering from a mental disorder.

James McAvoy, in perhaps his best performance since 2011’s X-Men: First Class, could be considered a jack of all mental trades. An heir to an assassin in 2008’s Wanted, a powerful telepathic in the aforementioned First Class, and now a cerebral manipulator as a result of his OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)-DID (dissociative identity disorder) diagnosis. It’s difficult to portray one character, let alone five. What I would have liked to see more (and hopefully the sequel delivers on this) is more of an origin story on how his illnesses manifested. Anya Taylor-Joy also had an amazing performance, and I personally liked how her unique backstory, coupled with her strong-willed determination, complemented (and combated against) the Scot’s more sadistic tendencies.

In terms of the technical, it was a well-put package overall. The use of both wide and narrow shots were well-executed and knew when to elevate tension and calm it. The cinematography and overall atmosphere were both effective and successfully achieved the target of the film: a stark reminder of the impact one’s psyche can have on a damaged individual. All in all, a definite return to form for a much maligned Shyamalan, especially after the abomination known as The Last Airbender.

The mind, like all organs, is delicate. It should be cherished, not wasted. It should be appreciated, not frowned upon. Thus, the mind’s eye (and therefore, mental health) is not a joke. I strongly advise anyone in this situation to seek whatever help is out there, and to not give up. The pursuit of happiness starts with a reflection of your best self, and taking that leap of faith might just be enough of a turning point you need to go from your current state to your desired state.

SCORE: 85/100

A Hologram for the King (2016)- Movie Review

Tom Hanks: the revolutionary behind words and phrases such as “Wilson!!”, “I’m the captain now”, and “You got a friend in me.” It’s all a testament to the man’s brilliant acting chops, and the fact that he can make something seemingly complex on the surface seem relatively easy. History has a tendency to repeat itself, and with the film “A Hologram for the King,” I think the aforementioned notion will rear its proverbial ugly head once more.

It’s the same old adage: A down on his luck businessman (Alan Clay, played by Tom Hanks) is brought into a project to appease a crowd of people, in the hopes of reinvigorating his career. The project in question is a virtual system for a future metropolis in Saudi Arabia, and the crowds of people are Arabian royalty and their associates. The down on his luck businessman is suffering from depression, and the initial stress we see his character in is quite extraordinary. He has nothing else (family, house, and to an extent, his debilitating health) aside from this demanding job, and is looking to have this post (the job, not this piece lol) build him back up.

In terms of things I liked, the cinematography was a true shining point in this film. I’ve never seen scenery so vivid and representative of a situation since The Revenant (my bias for cinematography is Roger Deakins), so kudos to cinematographer Frank Griebe for his efforts. Also, the theme of appearance versus reality (my generation’s version of this being “Yo this guy got SNAKED”) was done quite well and showed the harsh realities of someone adjusting to a new country with a heavy burden on his shoulders.

But if there’s one character I’d love to point out that stood out from the rest, it has to be Sarita Choudhary’s performance as Dr. Zahra (the love interest of Alan Clay). Seeing a female function in a male-dominated country such as Saudi Arabia was truly an eye-opening experience for me and was a successful use of the culture shock trope. She injects new life into this downtrodden soul and thus is the source of Clay’s renaissance in his career. In the words of my millennial generation, it’s what they would call relationship goals.

If there’s one gripe I have about this film, it’s that there’s a lot to digest at first, and it doesn’t chomp at the bit until the very last act. So if you see or identify as being impatient, this might not be the best film for you.

All in all, it was a magnificent film that opened my eyes and made me appreciate the power of one person to change another’s life for the better, as cliché as that sounds. If you like Tom Hanks, or if you want to spice up your life with an inspirational film, then give this a try.

SCORE: 85/100